Utah AD Mark Harlan Discusses Realignment, Utah Hoops

Aug 30, 2022, 12:02 PM | Updated: 12:10 pm
Utah athletic director Mark Harlan...
Utah athletic director Mark Harlan (Courtesy of James Wooldridge, Deseret News)
(Courtesy of James Wooldridge, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan jumped on the DJ  & PK show earlier Tuesday morning ahead of the Utes big road trip. Harlan took the time to discuss conference realignment, where the program stands, and the state of the basketball team.

Conference Realignment

The summer of 2022 started off really mild and quickly got out of hand when USC and UCLA announced they were going to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. As stressed as fans have been about the Utes’ future, Harlan was right there with them trying to navigate the options of what to do next.

“I think as we’ve gone through this process it certainly has taken it’s twists and turns,” Harlan said. “From the moment it happened trying to decide foremost the best path for Utah, which is always the first thing the President and I think about. As you go through that and try to figure out where the next step might be coming from. For example, I know the first two, three, four weeks was, ‘lets stay together’. Obviously, we didn’t know what others were doing, we didn’t know where the Big Ten was at- are they hunting for more? Then you have the Big 12 with some of the things going on out there and you weren’t sure.”

“Then you got to a point where it really did make sense for the 10- it didn’t appear there were any other invitations coming and so that galvanized us,” Harlan continued. “When we got to week four of this, there was a turn where we could really focus on the 10 of us working together to see how we can create more value. Making decisions like going to our incumbent partners and opening up a renegotiation period and that became the best place for us to go, and for us to be.”

While Harlan feels good about the plan for the remaining 10 Pac schools to stick together, he did also emphasize that they aren’t concerned about what other schools are doing in all of this. End of the day, Harlan says Utah has a “Utah plan” in place to make sure they end up in the best position possible.

“What you can’t do is worry every morning about what ‘this school is doing’ or ‘that school is doing’,” Harlan said. “We’ve got a ‘Utah plan’. We’ve got different paths to take depending on what happens, but right now the path, just to clear it up for us is to stick with the 10 schools and go forward, and try to cut a great TV deal.”

The State Of Utah Basketball

While most people’s minds are on the start of the football season, Harlan is also pleased with the work that is happening with men’s basketball. Ironically, just before hopping on DJ & PK, Harlan was having breakfast with head coach Craig Smith and going over their plans for the future.

“I had breakfast with Craig Smith and I’m reminded of just how good he is,” Harlan said. “We went through as we often talk about things, and we got into the key things we need to partner on to continue moving this program forward. Look, it’s a gem for us. It’s a special program and it’s very important to us that, that program can get back to where we know it can be. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and I just so appreciate Craig and his staff for what they have done. They’ve had a great summer and it starts with the work you don’t see, obviously, getting the roster back to where we want it to be and then using these new rules that allow us to coach the kids all summer.”

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